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Erdoğan faces barrage of objections to his presidential candidacy

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, gives a speech during a party parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, Turkey, on April 20, 2022. Adem ALTAN / AFP

Several more opposition parties and members of the legal community have filed petitions with Turkey’s election authority against the candidacy of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election on May 14, on the grounds that it contravenes the country’s constitution.

The new petitions have been filed by the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and the Homeland Party. The nationalist İYİ (Good) Party already announced on Monday that it had raised objections to Erdoğan’s candidacy with the YSK.

Debates among Turkish politicians and legal circles on whether Erdoğan is eligible to run in the 2023 presidential election were reignited after Erdoğan set May 14 as the date of presidential and parliamentary elections and announced his intention to run as a presidential candidate.

Questions have arisen about whether Erdoğan can run for a third term due to a change in the system of governance, with some claiming he is not legally eligible because he has already served two terms and cannot run for a third.

In addition to political parties, former chairman of the İzmir Bar Association, Özkan Yücel, as well as lawyer Turgut Kazan, former head of the İstanbul Bar Association, have also filed petitions with the YSK against Erdoğan’s candidacy.

The People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-expansionist political party, as well as jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş earlier objected to Erdoğan’s presidential candidacy with the YSK on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Erdoğan was first elected president for a five-year renewable term in 2014 by a direct vote under the parliamentary system. Turkey switched to the presidential system of governance with a referendum in 2017 and held snap presidential and parliamentary polls in 2018, when Erdoğan was elected president again. Under the presidential system, a person can be elected president for a five-year renewable term if the election is held as scheduled.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) turn a blind eye to the objections made to Erdoğan’s candidacy and claim that there is no obstacle standing in its way.

“There is no legal obstacle before the candidacy of our president,” tweeted AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik in response to the political parties and others challenging Erdoğan’s candidacy.

Çelik accused those objecting to Erdoğan’s candidacy of attempting to design politics by resorting to antidemocratic and illegal means.

The YSK on Monday announced the preliminary list of presidential candidates, which include Erdoğan in addition to three others, publishing it in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.

The YSK said it would accept objections to the list until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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